Nottingham Forest suffered late heartbreak at The City Ground this afternoon as Barnsley struck late to take all three points.
Minutes after Nicklas Bendtner had seen an effort ruled out for offside, Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane won the game for The Tykes with a stunning long-range strike as Forest failed to register a single shot on target.
Philippe Montanier made four changes to the side that was beaten at Newcastle on Friday night as Stephen Henderson, Michael Mancienne, David Vaughan and Britt Assombalonga replaced Vladimir Stojkovic, Matt Mills, Pajtim Kasami and Nicklas Bendtner.
The visitors made the brighter start on a chilly afternoon at The City Ground. Conor Hourihane saw his free-kick blocked away by the Forest wall before Henderson had to dive away to his right to palm behind a curling set-piece effort from Adam Hammill.
Forest had an excellent chance to take the lead midway through the first half through Assombalonga. The striker, making his first start since 19 November, rose to meet Ben Osborn’s right-winger corner but headed the ball wide when well-placed inside the penalty area.
Barnsley were continuing to win a number of free-kicks in dangerous positions and they had a huge opportunity after Hourihane’s set-piece was deflected behind. The corner came into the box and Henderson had to make a terrific save at the far post to prevent Josh Scowen from finding the net as The Reds scrambled the ball away.
Thomas Lam went into the referee’s notebook for a late challenge on Hourihane before Forest almost went ahead moments later. Assombalonga delivered a superb cross from the left-hand side and although no Forest man was there to attack it, Andy Yiadom almost turned it into his own net but the ball drifted inches wide of the post.
The visitors made a change at half-time as Marley Watkins replaced Ryan Kent but it was Forest who began the second half brightly. Eric Lichaj and Lam both had half-chances before a header from Jack Hobbs cannoned off the crossbar after he had met Osborn’s left-wing corner.
With Forest struggling to create any clear-cut chances as the second half wore on, Montanier made two changes with Kasami replacing Lam and Apostolos Vellios coming on in place of Nicolao Dumitru-Cardoso.
Forest almost broke the deadlock with seven minutes of normal time remaining. Lichaj produced a wonderful dummy to leave his man for dead on the edge of the penalty area but the captain for the day could only lash his shot wide of the far post.
Henderson then had to be at his very best with five minutes to play as the former Charlton goalkeeper denied substitute Sam Winnall from a few yards before Forest thought they had found a late winner through Bendtner.
The Danish striker produced a smart turn and finish inside the penalty area but the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside on the far side and the goal was ruled out.
There was then to be the cruellest sucker-punch for The Reds with 89 minutes on the clock as Barnsley found the all-important goal. Hourihane chested the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed a stunning strike which beat Henderson all ends up and crashed into the back of the net.
Matty Cash had an opportunity to level in stoppage time as he came inches away from turning home Hildeberto Pereira’s cross at the back post but it wasn’t to be as Forest slumped to a fifth defeat in six matches.
Forest: Henderson, Cash, Mancienne, Hobbs, Lichaj (c), Lam (Kasami 60’), Vaughan, Pereira, Osborn, Dumitru (Vellios 70’), Assombalonga (Bendtner 85’)
Subs not used: Smith, Perquis, Grant, Ahmedhodzic
Booking: Lam 32’
Barnsley: Davies, Bree, Yiadom, Jackson, MacDonald, Hourihane, Scowen, Hammill, Kent (Watkins 46’), Williams (Armstrong 81’), Bradshaw (Winnall 62’)
Subs not used: Townsend, White, Evans, Moncur
Goal: Hourihane 89’
Referee: James Linington
Attendance: 22,105 (1,786 away)